Where Is VIN On Motorcycle: Know All About Your Harley-Davidson Bike By Knowing The VIN


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Where Is Vin On Motorcycle

Have you heard motorcycle riders talk about VIN, but you don’t know where it is? If yes, then don’t worry, every novice has this phase at some point.

VIN on motorcycle is located on the plate of the frame or stamped on the headset of the Harley-Davidson bike. The VIN is essentially the fingerprint of your Harley-Davidson bike.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about VIN, where is VIN on a motorcycle, how to decode the VIN in different Harley-Davidson models, how to know if the VIN is authentic or fake, and much more. Continue reading to find all the answers.

Where is VIN on motorcycle?

The Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is the identifying code for a Harley-Davidson bike. The VIN will act as the fingerprint of your Harley-Davidson bike, as two bikes cannot have the same VIN.  A VIN consists of 17 characters (capital letters and digits) and it’ll act as a unique identifier for your bike. A VIN will display your Harley-Davidson bike’s specifications, unique features, and manufacturer. It can be used for tracking recalls, warranty claims, registrations, insurance coverage, and more. 

What if the VIN in your Harley-Davidson bike isn’t 17 characters long?

Have you ever had to contact a Harley-Davidson dealer to ask about components for your bike? If so, then you would have been asked for your bike’s VIN to help the employee look up the information. You should always double-check to ensure that you have the right VIN, and it is 17 characters long. However, if your motorcycle is pre-1981, it might not have a VIN that is 17 characters long. 

VINs have been in use since the 50s, but it wasn’t until the 80s that Harley-Davidson established VIN standardization. Before the 80s, the Harley-Davidson manufacturers were left to use their own judgment for creating VINs. This flexibility and lack of standardization meant that VIN numbers could be changed with ease. This was a common nightmare for both law enforcement agencies and insurance companies.

Starting in 1981, the VIN numbers were stamped on the newly manufactured Harley-Davidson bikes. Moreover, these numbers were 17 characters long. The sequencing had to comply with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardization and guidelines. 

If your motorcycle is manufactured in 1981 or later, you’ll find the VIN on the right side of your bike. The VIN will be stamped onto the frame that is near the steering head. You’ll be able to view it by easily turning the handlebar to the left and looking along the frame area. As the VIN will be in vertical format, you should read the numbers from top to bottom.

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How to decode VIN on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle?

Once you know where is VIN on a motorcycle, now comes the time to decode what the VIN denotes. One of the best ways is to go to the Harley-Davidson service information portal and look for information. It will allow you to find out all the information needed from your VIN. Other than that, there are two more ways to find out more about your Harley-Davidson bike’s VIN.

Using the VIN Decoder Application

Another way of decoding the VIN on your bike is by using a website or application like the VinDecoder application. It is an incredibly handy and simple-to-use application that will help you decipher VINs between 1903 and 2008. Unfortunately, the application creator did not release an update after 2008. Apart from decoding, the application will also give you a lot of useful information including engine models and more.

Manually decode VIN on your Harley-Davidson bike

The first three characters

The first three characters in the VIN of your bike will be the World Manufacturer ID. It’ll indicate where your Harley-Davidson bike was manufactured and intended for sale. 

There are four possible codes that you may see in this spot. 

For VINs that feature “1HD”, it means that the bike was manufactured for sale in the United States. If it shows “5HD”, then it means that the bike was manufactured for sale outside the United States. If the VIN shows “MEG”, it means that the bike was manufactured in and should be sold in India exclusively. In case the VIN reads “932”, then the bike was manufactured in and was meant for sale in Brazil exclusively. 

The characters 4-8

The 4th to 8th characters will give you information about the engine type, model, and engine size of the bike. This is very important information as it’ll help you get the information on the mechanical details of your bike.

The 4th character will either read a 1,4, or 8 for identifying either a heavyweight 901cc motor (1), a light to middleweight 351-900cc motor (4), or a sidecar (8).

The 5th and 6th characters will be letters and indicate the model designation for your bike. You will be able to identify if it is an FLT, XL, Dyna, or Softail model. There are many charts available on the internet that’ll give you a detailed breakdown of every possible mode and VIN code. As a general rule of thumb, FLT or touring models will begin with the letter “D”.

Meanwhile, Dynas will start with the letter “G” while Softails will begin with the letter “B”. The XL models will start with the letter “C”. However, there are a few exceptions as the FLHR Road Glide lineup starts with “FD” instead of “D” while the Dyna Bad Boy will fall under the Softail sequence as it starts with “BN”.

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Model designation for different Harley-Davidson bikes – 

  • BH = FXST
  • BJ = FLSTC 
  • BK = FXSTC 
  • BL = FXSTS 
  • BM = FLSTF  
  • BN = FLSTN 
  • BP = FXSTSB  
  • BR = FLSTS 
  • BS = FXSTD 
  • BT = FXSTB 
  • BV = FXSTI 
  • BX = FLSTFI 
  • BZ = FXSTSI 
  • CA – XL-883
  • CJ = XL883 
  • CL = XL-1200 
  • CM = XL-883L
  • CN = XL-883 
  • CP = XL-883C 
  • CR = XL-883L 
  • CS = XL-883R
  • CT = XL-1200C 
  • CV = XL-1200R 
  • CX = XL-1200L 
  • CY = XL-50 
  • CZ = XL-1200N 
  • DA = FLT 82-83
  • DB = FLTC
  • DD = FLHT
  • DH = FLTC 
  • DJ = FLHTC
  • DK = FLTC 
  • DM = FLTCU
  • EA = FXR
  • EB = FXRS 
  • EC = FXRT 
  • ED = FXRP 
  • EF = FXRP 
  • EG = FXRS 
  • EH = FXRD
  • EJ = FXRC
  • FB = FLHR-I 
  • FC = FLHTCU-I 
  • FD = FLHR 
  • FE = FLTCU-I
  • FF = FLHTC-I
  • FH = FLHP-I 
  • FJ = FLHP 
  • FK = FLHTC-I 
  • FL = FLHTCU-I 
  • FM = FLHTP-I 
  • FN = FLHPE 
  • FP = FLTR 
  • FR = FLHRC-I 
  • FS = FLTR-I 
  • FT = FLHPE-I
  • FV = FLHT-I
  • FW = FLHR-I 
  • FX = FLHRS 
  • FY = FLHRS-I 
  • GD = FXDL 
  • GE = FXDWG
  • GG = FXDS 
  • GH = FXD 
  • GJ = FXDX 

The 7th character will indicate the engine displacement for your Harley-Davidson bike. The possible letters that you will see here and the engine identified are –

  • B = fuel-injected TC88B
  • L = carbureted 1340 EVO
  • M = 883 Evolution
  • N = 1100 EVO
  • P = 1200 EVO
  • R = fuel-injected 1340
  • V = carbureted TC88B
  • W = fuel-injected TC88
  • Y = carbureted TC88B

The 8th character will indicate how the bike’s model was introduced. You will be able to find out whether your bike was a standard rollout (1) or a mid-year launch (2), a California-only vehicle (3), or a Special Edition (4). There will be other characters that exist in this position if the bike has been sold internationally. The characters will be unique to the specifications of where your bike was manufactured and sold.

The ninth character

The 9th character will act as a check digit or a validator for the VIN. There will be no secondary code or any references for this digit, as it’ll exist only for validation purposes.

The tenth character

The 10th character will be used to indicate the model year of your Harley-Davidson bike. Between the years 1980 and 2000, this character will be signified by the letters A-Y. This character features the letter “A” for 1980, the letter “B” for 1981, and so on with “Y” used for 2000. After 2000, the sequence was changed to numbers. 2001 was denoted by “1”, 2002, by “2”, and so on. However, the letters were brought back in 2010. As “A” started to be used for the model year 2010. 

The characters I, Q, O, Z, U, and the number 0 aren’t used in VINs, not even as year identifiers.

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Vin On Motorcycle

The eleventh character

The 11th character is the factory code, and it’ll help you identify the manufacturing plant where your bike was manufactured. In the United States, the letters “B” and “Y” indicate that the bike was assembled in York, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, “E” indicates that it was made at the Buell plant in East Troy, Wisconsin. For bikes manufactured in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, the letter “T” is used. The letter “J” will signify that the bike was made in the plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin while “K” is used for the plant in Kansas City, Missouri.

Outside the United States, the two letters that are used are “D” and “N”. The letter “D” is used to signify that the bike was assembled at the plant in Manaus, Brazil. Meanwhile, the letter “N” is used for bikes assembled in Haryana, India. If there is a character in this position that doesn’t align with any of these letters, then it means that the bike was assembled in Thailand.

How to know if the VIN on your bike isn’t authentic?

If you’re buying your first Harley-Davidson bike, or you’re buying a used model, it needs to be something authentic. It should hold its value and not be a second-rate cheap copy of a bike. You must check the VIN to know if the bike is authentic. If you’re purchasing a Harley-Davidson bike, it is important to know what the VIN will look like. It is possible that a thief might try to tamper with the VIN or change it in some way.

Before eBay came along, it was common for thieves to tamper with it. After eBay, it was made even easier, as thieves would strip stolen bikes and sell individual parts. To prevent something like that from happening to you, you must check the VIN.

The VIN will be located on the right side of the frame. Also, check it against the engine numbers. It is essential to inspect your bike’s VIN and ensure that it hasn’t been altered. The numbers must be evenly and consistently stamped onto your bike’s surface. Look for any potential inconsistencies and put every character under a magnifying glass.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about the VIN on a Harley-Davidson bike, where is VIN on a motorcycle, how to decode your Harley-Davidson bike’s VIN, and more. The VIN will be located on the right side of your motorcycle’s frame. It’ll consist of 17 characters (digits and letters) and will be the thumbprint or unique identifier for your Harley-Davidson bike.

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